Souper Philanthropists

K, 1, 2

This lesson will encourage students to think of ways that they can be (or have been) philanthropists.  A puppet or doll is used to tell a story about going to a soup kitchen to motivate the students about providing food for a soup kitchen or other organization that addresses hunger.

PrintOne 45 minute class period

The learner will:

  • define the words philanthropy and philanthropist.
  • brainstorm small ways that s/he can be a philanthropist.
  • investigate ways to address issues of poverty, homelessness and hunger.
  • investigate the underlying causes of poverty, homelessness and hunger.
  • state the difference between volunteer and paid labor.
  • Puppet of a child or a doll
  • Simple two-option graph and graphing materials
  • Book: Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen (see Bibliographical References)
Teacher Preparation 

It is important to be sensitive to the possibility that someone in your class may have some personal experience with homelessness, hunger and poverty.

  • DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne. Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. New York: Mulberry Books, 1997. ISBN 0-688-15285-6


  1. Anticipatory Set: Create a two-column chart titled "I can be a philanthropist" for the students to see as they enter. Students place a mark by either the word "yes" or the word "no" in answer to the prompt.

  2. Discuss the information collected on the chart. You will need to review the meaning of philanthropy (sharing of time, talents and treasures for the common good). To help them remember the difference between philanthropy and a philanthropist, simplify the definitions: "philanthropy is the kind act" and "a philanthropist is the person who does the kind act."

  3. Tell the students a personal story of a time when someone was a philanthropist to you. (Example: One time I was in line at the coffee store and the man in front of me paid for my son's milk. The cashier accidentally rang it up on his bill and he told her to keep it there. He walked away without telling me he did it. The cashier told me after he had left. Not only did he do something kind, he didn't wait to be thanked for it.) Share with them how you felt. Tell a story of a time when you were a philanthropist. Again share how it made you feel. Help the children think of ways they can be philanthropists.

  4. Use a puppet of a child (a doll or a paper puppet can be substituted) to tell the children a story about a child who eats meals at a soup kitchen. The story should go something like this: "Hi, my name is Lisa. I go to (make up a school name) and I am in the first grade. I like school but do you know what I like best about school? The lunch! When I leave for school in the morning, my Mom kisses me and always reminds me to eat all of my lunch. It's important to eat all of my lunch because we don't have very much food at home and I need to be sure to fill my tummy with food when I can. When I go to bed, I am usually pretty hungry. Sometimes I take an apple or an orange home from my school lunch. At bedtime, we cut it into pieces and my whole family shares it. That's so much fun. I see McDonald's sometimes but I've never been there. My family goes out to eat on Sundays to a place they call a soup kitchen. Do any of you know what that is? The food is really good and we don't even have to pay for it. But we can't take food home from the soup kitchen. So on Sunday nights I'm pretty hungry by the time I go to bed again. So you probably can understand now why I like lunchtime at school the best."

  5. Quietly place the puppet out of sight and spend a few moments reflecting on the storywith the students. Ask them if they would like to help children like Lisa who don't always have enough food to eat.

  6. Ask the students to draw a picture of a time that they helped someone or a picture of themselves helping someone in the future. Ask them to copy the sentence "I am a philanthropist." from the board onto their picture.

  7. Gather the class for a group discussion time. Have several students share their drawings and tell their story. Encourage students to comment on each other's writing and pictures that illustrate acts of philanthropy. Guide the students to the idea that one philanthropic act can lead to others and that can be a good thing for the community.

  8. Ask the students to share other ideas that they can think of to act philanthropically for the community.

  9. Share the book Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen with the class. Allow time to discuss the book and the pictures.

  10. Tell the students that soup kitchens (and other organizations that address hunger) are run by people who volunteer their time. Explain the difference between paid and volunteer workers, and discuss the need for each. Soup kitchens provide a resource for people in the community that are in need of a meal. Tell them that there are other agencies or organizations that help provide other need that help people.

  11. Ask the students to provide some ideas of ways they think they can help people in need in their community. Examples might include volunteering at the soup kitchen, making snacks to donate to an organization that provides dinners for kids, collecting canned food to donate to food banks, soup kitchens or other places; collecting coats, mittens or other items of clothing; collecting disposable diapers or any other resourcess that are particular to your community.


Observe student participation in classroom discussion. Have students demostrate their knowledge through writing how they area philanthropist. Have students create a flier to go home demonstrating their knowledge of poverty, homelessness and hunger issues and the impact that they can make on these issues.

Cross Curriculum 

Students come to a concensus on a voluntary action that addresses an identified need related to poverty and homelessness.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      3. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.